Togetherness Project: Midway 2014

I was honored to have been asked to present at The Togetherness Project at the Zermatt Resort in Midway Utah; an event that just happened two days ago. As well as presenting, I had the opportunity to attend many other classes in which I gleaned much wisdom from the experience of others to help me along my own healing journey. I want to take a few moments and record my thoughts here.

In chronological order, by presenter:

Opening Keynote: Paul Parkin on Empathy

I really loved Paul. His presentation style was so entertaining and meaningful. He had great insights into empathy that I really felt fit well with my own presentation on Grace.

I especially loved his analogy of the rock climber, and how he likened rock climbing to our own journey of recovery. He expressed the importance of strapping ourselves to others who are also climbing so that in those moments when we lose our footing, there are secure people around us who can catch our fall. Additionally, all that we learn along our recovery path act as hooks in the mountain wall, securing us even tighter against the threat of treacherous calamity. Finally, he validated our need to take breaks every now and then; to refuel and refresh.

Empathy happens three places:
  • Head - This is where we inject ourselves into the perspective of another and ask; 'what would it be like to be them?'
  • Heart - This is where we assume what it feels like to be them.
  • Hand - This is the action that follows, the desire to sooth and comfort them.
Active participation in empathy leads to:
  • Compassion
  • Non-judgment
  • Validation
  • Vulnerability
(All of which, Grace does perfectly)

Paul then asked; "What would happened if we took blame out of our life and washed our wounds with empathy?"

I still have yet to wrap my head around this and come up with an answer worth documenting...
"Empathy has the ability to wrap its arms around us and tell us that everything shame says is not true." - Paul Parkin
"People cannot help us unless we have the courage to tell our story." - Paul Parkin
"Empathy is not something that we do, it's something that we are; we become empathy." - Paul Parkin 

First Breakout Session: Paul Parkin on Listening to Our Emotions

The single most important thing I learned from this class is that there is no such thing as negative emotions. All emotions are positive. To call them negative is to shame them, which leads to stuffing, which will eventually lead to exploding. All emotion has purpose.
"Emotions diagnose us." - Paul Parkin
Although none of our emotions are negative, our response to them can be.

The three most toxic and damaging emotions are:
  • Shame
  • Hopelessness
  • Hatred
Processing our emotions is just that; a process:
  • Recognize and label
  • Explore
  • Assess
  • Problem Solve
  • Practice
"We cannot change other people, we can only change ourselves, but by changing ourselves, we invite change in others." - Paul Parkin
Paul's recipe for happiness:
  • Be true to yourself
  • Leave no regrets
  • Become love
  • Live in the moment
  • Give more than you take

Second Breakout Session: Kevin Skinner on Making Sense of Intimacy

I really love Dr. Skinner. I've attended some educational classes by him and his thoughts in resiliency have always stuck with me. He is a gentle soul, with a pure desire to help others.
"Sexual intimacy is the bi-product of actual intimacy." - Dr. Kevin Skinner
"Intimacy = in-to-me-see" - Dr. Kevin Skinner 

Third Breakout Session: Rhyll Croshaw on What Can I do About Me?

Although I had previously connected with Rhyll at a number of different events, this was the first I'd actually heard her present. I loved hearing her story, and feeling of her valiant spirit.
"Any decision based on fear is the wrong one." - Rhyll Croshaw
"Speak truth through a filter of love." - Rhyll Croshaw
But, then I added: 
"Truth trumps love, because love cannot survive in a lie; so above all, speak truth." Sidreis Keller Agla
"If I'm in my own head, I'm behind enemy lines" - Rhyll Croshaw

Midday Keynote: Ashlee Harmon Birk on The Moments We Stand

Wow, I barely took notes through this presentation because I pretty much sobbed through the entire thing, but I did manage to catch a few:

Five Truths:
  • Find the beauty that is still all around
  • Have faith in the future
  • Find forgiveness
  • Believe in YOU!
  • Find hope in your story
I would like to publicly thank Ashlee at this point, because she really set the tone for my presentation that immediately followed hers. Her ability to be completely open and raw created an atmosphere of potent vulnerability, perfect for my presentation on Grace. I feel that those that attended were spiritually and emotionally prepped to hear how the grace of our Loving Savior can heal them.

Fourth Breakout Session: Sidreis Keller Agla on Grace

Once I write the blog post(s) detailing my presentation, I will link it here.

Fifth Breakout Session: Liz MacDonald on Self Compassion and Emotional Release

One thing that I really loved about Liz is she was funny. Sometimes we seriously just need a bit of comic relief to lighten the load of what we carry.
"True freedom is the ability to pause and respond to a stimulus or trigger." - Kathy Kinghorn

Closing Keynote: Jacy Boyack and Kelli Rhees on Light

To be honest, I didn't take any notes during these two presentations. I just allowed myself to simply relax and feel it. But, I will share the video that Jacy shared, because it is absolutely amazing. It truly does show that true happiness and connection happens when we get outside of ourselves, give freely, and love freely.

I seriously cannot wait until the next Togetherness. How blessed I am to have it in my life.


  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts from TTP Sidreis--I really appreciate it! I wish I could have been there with all of you again this year. I look forward to your post/s from your presentation!!

  2. I needed to hear this today! Thank you for sharing this, Sid. <3

  3. My mother-in-law went to it this year and really enjoyed it, particularly the morning. Thanks for all you do in the recovery field!


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